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A small plane with apparent mechanical problems skipped across a suburban Los Angeles lake and plowed into a group of people celebrating the Independence Day holiday Thursday, killing four, authorities said.
The crash killed both people aboard the twin-engine Cessna 310 as well as a 12-year-old girl and a 15-month-old boy in the crowd. Another 12 people on the ground were injured, two critically, said Capt. Mark Savage of the Los Angeles County Fire Department.
The pilot died at a hospital a few hours after the crash, while the plane's passenger died at the scene, Savage said. The children on the ground died later at a hospital.
The dead girl was with friends and family at the park when the crash occurred, he said.
FAA spokeswoman Laura Brown said the tower at Pomona Bracket Airport, the plane's origin, received a distress call from the pilot saying the plane was unable to climb. Moments later, the plane crashed into Puddingstone Lake before slamming into the crowd.
Capt. Russ Collins, a spokesman for the San Dimas Police Department, said a call came in at 12:49 p.m. local time that a plane was down on the eastern shore of the lake.
Collins said personnel from the Los Angeles Sheriff's Department, deputies from the San Dimas Sheriff's Department, and Los Angeles County Park police went to the scene.
Gov. Gray Davis said the pilot made two mayday calls just before the accident, and the governor sought to reassure Californians that there was no evidence to suggest terrorism. The accident occurred around the same time a shooting broke out at Los Angeles International Airport, leaving two people and a gunman dead.
"Clearly, this was a mechanical problem, very unlikely to be having anything to do with any plot against anyone," Davis said. "We regret the loss of life and the injuries that have occurred there."
He urged residents to press on with Fourth of July festivities. "Please continue on with your celebrations," he said.